The Client: Major Food Brand
From its inception, the company’s goal has been to provide its customers with tasty, nutritious food that meet the most rigorous quality standards.
Its quality assurance processes span the entire value chain. Supplier and manufacturing plans are regularly checked for conformance with sanitation and quality procedures. Raw materials, processing and packaging operations are monitored to ensure consistency of flavor, texture, purity and nutrient content.
The company also conducts quality audits across its enterprise for compliance with best practices. Multiple manufacturing sites and suppliers are audited at regular intervals each year. In place is a well-defined, well-structured audit program that provides an in-depth evaluation of the entire supply chain. It covers all safety and quality aspects from hygiene to sanitation to pest control to complaint response. It also ensures that the company complies with internal audit criteria, external regulatory standards and quality policies and procedures.
As the number of suppliers grew, the company found audit management to be increasingly challenging. Planning and conducting audits across hundreds of suppliers and manufacturing plants was complex and intricate, not to mention expensive and time-consuming. In response, the company wanted to strengthen its internal audit management system
The company wanted a solution to strengthen its audit process and improve the efficiency of audit planning, implementation and follow-up. The solution was also required to evaluate food quality and safety programs for compliance with internal and external standards.
After a thorough evaluation of the market, the company settled on MetricStream Solution for audit management. MetricStream’s impressive track record with other food nutrition giants was a key factor in the selection. MetricStream also demonstrated a keen understanding of the company’s needs and offered a solution that could automate audit workflows, integrate audit management across the enterprise, enhance reporting and visibility and deliver timely audit information for decision-making.
MetricStream Audit Management solution has been rolled out across the company’s US operations and may be extended worldwide in due course. It is built on a common platform which enables all the company’s audit activities to be planned, scheduled, executed and reviewed from a single point of reference. Therefore, siloed audits can be eliminated in favor of a more collaborative, streamlined approach.
The solution comes equipped with a supplier portal through which the company’s suppliers can securely create and manage their profiles from anywhere across the world. They can also view performance metrics, respond to action requests and find task assignments.
To improve operational efficiency, MetricStream Audit Management Solution provides end-to-end workflow automation for the complete internal audit lifecycle – right from audit planning through implementation and field data collection to audit reviews and the implementation of audit recommendations.
Audit preparation: Using MetricStream Solution, the company can plan and schedule audits in a logical manner across all auditable entities - ingredient suppliers, co-manufacturing plants and manufacturing facilities. The solution also enables the company to clearly define and organize all auditing material including audit templates, checklists, individual tasks, surveys and scoring criteria.
In line with the company’s audit procedures, the solution allows audit calendars to be drawn up every year. Based on the auditable entity, audits can be scheduled annually, bi-annually or on a more ad hoc basis. Audit teams are selected and assigned due responsibilities, with the system providing automatic notifications each time an auditing assignment approaches.
The solution also enables the company to plan and manage its auditing resources more efficiently. Various tools are provided to budget auditing investments, choose auditors, allocate assignments and define time schedules. Any modifications that are made to these functions are immediately reflected in the system and communicated to the appropriate personnel across the enterprise.
Audit implementation: The company’s auditors use MetricStream solution to record qualitative and quantitative findings. If network access is unavailable at an offsite location, auditors record their findings offline and simply synchronize this data with the main-flow once they are reconnected to a network.
The solution allows audits to be divided into several categories for each auditable entity. Therefore for ingredient suppliers, audits can be conducted based on operational quality, food safety, sanitation, pest control and others. Each category is scored based on the company’s existing audit methodology, with critical areas highlighted for further attention.
The solution allows each audit to be monitored through a central tracking system. Milestones are measured and compared to track progress from one audit to the next. The system also provides automatic check-offs at each stage of completion to determine which audits have been completed, which are in progress and which are yet to be started.
A sophisticated search capability enables the company to quickly locate data based on audit dates, plants, questions, categories and scores. Similarly, a centralized repository of information enables audit data to be easily archived and retrieved.
Audit review and reporting: Once the audits have been completed, MetricStream Audit Management Solution helps the company’s auditors compile their findings, observations and recommendations into detailed reports. The system enables reports to be generated according to various categories including unit type, region, project status, summary, weekly logs and follow-up. Customized, flexible reports can also be created. This way, auditors do not need to spend days drawing up manual audit reports.
As soon as the reports are completed, the system routes them to upper management for review and then to the audited entities for their response. Built-in workflows enable auditors to approve or reject the response and stimulate corrective actions. Follow-up audits can also be scheduled.
Graphical dashboards with drill-down capabilities provide a detailed, nuanced view of audit performance and results. Using these dashboards, auditors and managers get a clear, real-time picture of audit status, results, trends and KPIs across the enterprise. This enables them to make timely, actionable decisions impacting food safety and quality.
Corrective actions: MetricStream Audit Management Solution provides a seamless workflow for corrective actions. Issues that arise during audits are tracked in real-time and routed through an investigation and remediation process. If a quality issue arises out of a supplier location, MetricStream solution enables auditors to assess, investigate and record the issue as well as manage Supplier Corrective Action Requests (SCARs) and Corrective /Preventive Actions (CAPAs).
Each corrective action is easily captured with complete dates and ownership, and is visible to both auditors and managers. Email based notifications and alerts keep the process on track and provide timely reminders whenever action is required.
MetricStream Solutions are built on a common platform that integrates audit management across the enterprise and provides a single point of control for all aspects of audit management.
MetricStream contains rich, automated functionalities to replace manual processes, improve operational efficiencies and reduce resource consumption.
MetricStream contains powerful reporting capabilities with dashboards that provide in-depth visibility into audit management statuses and metrics at any time.
MetricStream solutions are not only easy-to-use but they also simplify audit management by streamlining and integrating process workflows across the enterprise.
MetricStream has the capacity to extend its solution to newer geographical locations and support multiple users across complex networks
Lack of automation: The Company’s internal auditors relied on manual spreadsheets to record and store data, track trends and send alerts and notifications. This approach proved to be both complex and expensive especially as the scope of auditing increased to cover more suppliers. The likelihood of errors arising was also high.
Time-consuming report creation: Like most other audit processes at the company, audit reporting was also conducted manually. Auditors found themselves spending far too much time planning and scheduling audit programs and collecting audit data. Generating reports often took up to 16 hours. Not only was this exhausting, it was also time-consuming and complex.
Stand alone audit processes: The lack of a common audit management system resulted in several limitations - complex audit schedules that varied from one location to the other, restricted search capabilities and ad-hoc audit workflows. Data retrieval and archival was not easy either.
Limited process visibility: The company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Dashboards had to be created in separate systems. Hyperlinks across systems were not allowed. As a result, auditors and managers were unable to gain a clear picture of the audit status across the enterprise. Neither were they able to track corrective actions. This hindered their ability to make informed decisions regarding audit compliance.
"Our company has always followed a stringent and well-defined quality assurance program. But as we grow and expand, we need a robust audit management system to ensure that our quality processes are followed down to the last detail. MetricStream has provided us with an efficient and flexible system, equipped with rich dashboards and workflows that will help us enhance the company’s reputation as a trusted name in food quality." says Audit Manager.